As a long suffering Town Committee treasurer, who tries to go by the book, I want to second Representative Tim O’Brien’s (New Britain and Newington) complaints about the State Election Enforcement Commission. He takes issue, justifiably in my opinion, with the Commission’s assertion that he has to put a “Paid for by ” disclaimer on his blog or facebook page, despite the fact that he isn’t paying anyone for either the blog or the facebook nor is he getting any kind of deal, since blogspot and facebook are free to anyone.
My wife ran into a situation where she was trying to send a mass email for a fundraiser, and was told that the email would be considered a contribution, on the theory that she pays for internet service and she was giving some of it away to the candidate in question. This sort of stuff gets a little absurd, and, as O’Brien points out, is so de minimus that it should properly be ignored.
Our town committee stopped doing tag sales because I concluded that it was literally impossible to hold one and comply with the law, because I would have to have accounted for every piece of junk that someone donated, give it a value, and keep track of what was paid for it. Easy enough if you’re doing a high priced auction; not so easy if you’re selling hundreds of donated items for a few bucks apiece.
If you start out with the proposition that no one in their right mind would be interested in bribing town committees (okay, except for Linda McMahon) and that most of them are low budget affairs, you might very well conclude that it would make sense to exempt them from disclosure requirements altogether, so long as their total expenditures/contributions in a year don’t exceed some reasonable figure. That would make life easier for a lot of people, without undermining the law’s purpose at all. That would be a legislative solution of course.
On the plus side, I must say the folks at the Commission are helpful, in that they will give you an answer to any questions you might have very quickly. I may not always like the answers, but at least I get them.